The Merced County chapter of Habitat for Humanity is celebrating the fourth anniversary and expansion of its ReStore facility in Atwater and the prospect of building two new homes for needy families this year.
Habitat for Humanity, which formed a local chapter in Merced County in 1994, first opened its thrift store in the former Passadori’s Furniture and Appliance Store in Atwater on Dec. 1, 2017 and this January moved into the second portion of the store. Their retail area now encompasses 13,500 square feet and offers a wide variety of items.
Jan Sorge of Merced, Habitat chapter president, said she has been told by customers that the expanded store is the best thing to happen in Atwater in quite some time. She said sales have doubled since they moved into the second part of the store in January and the added area significantly expands what they can sell.
Sorge says Habitat is hoping to negotiate a five to 10-year lease on the store located at 1200 Broadway Ave., at the corner of Third Street.
Revenue from the ReStore sales goes into Habitat’s building fund to build homes for low-income families. Sorge said the City of Atwater wants to partner with them on the building of homes in Atwater and they have been working with the mayor and city planner to make this happen.
The organization has built 14 homes since its founding.
It is hoped construction will start on the first home this spring and the goal is to build two homes a year in Atwater, Sorge said.
“We have furniture, appliances, electronics, handicapped equipment, kitchen essentials, light fixtures, you name it. Everything’s donated. With COVID-19, so many people have been doing repairs at home and we have what is needed,” Sorge said.
Six adults volunteer their time in the store and students from UC Merced have started volunteering to help with moving heavy furniture items. Missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints also have been helping out.
Sorge said Habitat always needs more volunteers. The store is open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Masks are required and social distancing is observed. Temperatures are taken at the entrance and a limited number of people are allowed in the store at one time.
Habitat for Humanity team members typically take about three months to build homes for low-income families. Family members must contribute 500 hours of sweat equity to the project. Only four families are still paying on their no-interest home loans.
What’s available at ReStore? They have a number of pictures and paintings, some dating back many years. The store has a wide assortment of glassware and knick knacks plus a large assortment of plumbing, electrical and hardware supplies. There is a toy section.
“You name it, we’ve got it,” Sorge said.
Several building contractors have donated extra windows, doors and home fixtures to the store. It also has a large area with paperbacks, hardback books and children’s books, along with tapes, records, tape players and computer equipment.
ReStore also has a number of walkers, wheelchairs and other handicap items. Its hardware section has a large quantity of bolts, washers, light bulbs, light fixtures and construction supplies. Furniture items include couches and sofas, dressers, beds, dining tables, and home appliances also are available.
If these items aren’t tempting, the store also has a 1920s-vintage player piano looking for a new home, along with a vintage oak desk. Several sets of golf clubs and bags are available for the athletically-minded.
Sorge said those wishing to donate items to Habitat for Humanity may call (209) 726-0850 for pickup. Their email address is [email protected] and their website is http://www.hfhmerced.org. Habitat is also on Facebook and Twitter.